Senior physicians across Israel warned on Tuesday that the Israeli healthcare system may soon fail to provide optimal treatment to patients with severe cases of COVID-19 due to medical staff shortages.
Prof. Gil Fire, the deputy CEO of Tel Aviv's Ichilov hospital, told Ynet that his hospital's emergency room has seen an increase in workload, especially since it has been accepting patients from other medical centers whose coronavirus wards have reached full capacity.
"The question is not the number of beds, but who is taking care of the patients," said Fire.
"There is only a limited number of trained doctors who know how to treat serious patients. The workload is unusual, especially in light of the workload at other hospitals that refer to us [patients]. Our emergency room is very busy, patients are lying in the corridors, and in the last week, we have seen an increase in admissions to the general emergency department."
Fire also warned that Ichilov will not be able to keep taking patients from overworked hospitals for long.
Dr. Debra West, manager of the Urgent Care and Trauma Center at Samson Assuta University Hospital in the southern city of Ashdod corroborated Fire's fears, but expressed hope that Israel's current three-week general lockdown will help alleviate the pressure placed on medical teams.
Meanwhile, Hebrew University's Prof. Yinon Ashkenazy earlier Tuesday warned the government that Israel's hospitals would pass the 800-person threshold for adequately treating seriously ill coronavirus patients by the end of the week.
Ashkenazy said that the vast majority of virus contagions occurred indoors, while there was minimal risk of catching the virus outdoors if social distancing was maintained.
In his estimation, mask wearing was most important indoors, although not a fool-proof prevention method. As such, he said, it was still crucial to limit the numbers of people congregating in one place.
His assessment was supported by Prof. Eran Segal of the Weizmann Institute of Science, who alongside Ashkenazy advises the government on the coronavirus pandemic.
According to their assessment, Israel's hospitals will see 1,600 serious cases of COVID-19 within no more than three weeks.